Symphony Orchestra

About Iowa State University Orchestra Program

The first documented mention of a Symphony Orchestra at Iowa State University is found in the student yearbook of 1894, meaning there has been an organized orchestra on campus for over 125 years. From its earliest days as a small, student-led group, the ensemble has since grown into a full-size orchestra led by distinguished faculty, performing major symphonic, choral and operatic repertoire.

The ISU Symphony is open to everyone 

No matter what their major, all students at ISU are welcome to participate in the Symphony Orchestra. We admit students who have had years of private lessons and All-State orchestra experience, as well as those who only started playing in their high school orchestra. 

The ISU Symphony features the best ISU has to offer 

Performing as a soloist with the ISU Symphony is the most coveted opportunity for students in the Department of Music and Theater, earned through a rigorous, multi-stage competition for the privilege. Winners are typically featured in the first concert of the spring semester. 

Jump to audition information



ISU Chamber Orchestra

Rehearsals: TBD

The Iowa State Chamber Orchestra is Iowa State's most select orchestral ensemble and is made up of some of the best instrumental musicians on Iowa State campus. Membership is drawn from the ISU Symphony, and students must be enrolled in ISU Symphony in order to participate in the ISU Chamber Orchestra. Admission to Iowa State Chamber Orchestra is by audition, and is open to students enrolled at Iowa State University regardless of major or year in school.

The ISU Chamber Orchestra focuses on advanced Baroque, Classical, and Contemporary repertoire written for chamber orchestras. The Iowa State University Chamber Orchestra presents approximately two concerts on the ISU campus each year in the internationally acclaimed Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall. Additionally, the ISU Chamber Orchestra gives repeat performances at schools across the state of Iowa. Every three years, this ensemble serves as the pit orchestra for ISU Opera productions.

ISU Symphony Orchestra

Rehearsals: Tuesday and Thursday 4:10-6:00 pm, 
Music Hall Room 140, Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall

The Iowa State University Symphony Orchestra is a premiere ensemble of the Department of Music and Theatre, presenting approximately seven concerts annually at venues including the internationally acclaimed Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Stephens Auditorium, and Fisher Theater. These programs survey symphonic, opera, and choral-orchestra repertory, in collaboration with the Theatre and Choral divisions.

The ensemble is drawn entirely from the student body of Iowa State, and proudly includes representation from across the colleges of the University. The approximately 80 players that make up its membership include engineers, biologists, meteorologists, design majors, in addition to a robust number of music majors. Former members of the University Symphony Orchestra are now performers and teachers in the finest orchestras and schools across the country.

The University Symphony Orchestra provides students with the opportunity to explore diverse orchestral repertory within a supportive and adventurous learning community. Admission to the ensemble is by audition, and open to students enrolled at Iowa State University regardless of major or year in school. The orchestra boasts an annual concerto competition, young people’s concerts and holiday/pops evenings in addition to standard symphonic concerts.

The Iowa State campus has hosted some of the world’s greatest musical artists including Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Fritz Kreisler, Pablo Casals, Mischa Elmann, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, and Maud Powell as well as world-renowned symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Dresden Staatskapelle, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and London Symphony Orchestras.

The tradition of enhancing the life of the university community through concerts by leading artists of the world continues today thanks to the efforts of the ISU Performing Arts Council, Ames International Orchestra Festival, Alvin Edgar Fund for the Performing Arts, and the special attractions sponsored by the Iowa State Center.

Get Involved

Joining the ISU Orchestra Program is easy!

For Fall Semester 2024

Register for Music 1810 

The students who would like to audition should contact Director of Orchestral Activities, to schedule their audition time during the first week of classes (August 25, 2024).

Audition information can be found below.

Email if you have any questions!

Course Information

ISU Symphony Orchestra: Music 1810
Rehearsals: Tuesday & Thursday 4:10-6:00 pm

ISU Chamber Orchestra: Enrollment is restricted
Rehearsals: TBD

If you are interested in joining the ISU Symphony, you are encouraged to register for the course before you audition. This is the only time that MUSIC 1810 is offered. All participants in orchestra are required to register and be available for all rehearsals and concerts. For more information on the audition process or scholarships follow the links below!

The ISU Chamber Orchestra is a select group drawn from the ISU Symphony.

Audition Information 

When will the auditions take place? Sunday, August 25, 2024.

Symphony Orchestra auditions will be held on August 25, 2024, for students wishing to participate in the fall semester. Students can sign up for an 8-minute audition time slot. Auditions will be held in Estes 229 at the following times:

Additional audition slots have been added for students wishing to audition on a string instrument (violin, viola, and cello). 
To register for one of these additional time slots, please use the link below. 

Strings Audition Registration






***Times are subject to change. 

What should I prepare? There will be two components to your audition: an orchestral excerpt for your instrument (shown below) and a piece to showcase your technical ability.

What do I need to know about the Symphony Orchestra? The Iowa State University Symphony Orchestra welcomes members from every single college and department on campus. Students come from a wide range of musical backgrounds: some have had years of private lessons, others have only played in their school orchestras. Some students, wind and brass players especially, have never been in orchestra before but are looking for new challenges and a chance to play music by some of the greatest composers who ever lived.

Our best piece of advice to everyone auditioning is simple: show us what you can do well. If that means you play something easy, we’d much prefer to hear that rather than hear you try something that’s outside your current skill level. And don’t ever assume you’re “not good enough.” Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and get in touch with us first.

Strings Audition Lists and Excerpts Fall 2024

Flute Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Oboe Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Clarinet Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Bassoon Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

French Horn Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Trumpet Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Tenor Trombone Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Bass Trombone Audition Excerpts Fall 2024

Tuba Audition Excerpts Fall 2024 - Ride of the Valkyries

Tuba Audition Excerpts Fall 2024 - Die Meistersinger Overture


Learn more about scholarship information for the ISU Orchestra Program

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